Charles Spearin is a multi-instrumentalist who has been an active and influential member of Canada’s independent music community since the mid 1990’s. He is primarily known as a founding member of the instrumental post-rock ensemble Do Make Say Think and an original member of the indie-rock collective Broken Social Scene. Spearin’s most recent work – his first solo album – innocently titled “The Happiness Project” centers around recorded conversations with his downtown neighbours and plays with the cadence of their voices as though they were songs.
The inspiration behind this new project comes partly from his love of music and fascination with sound and partly from his experience and education in Buddhism. Charles was raised with a blind, Buddhist father and, before the birth of his own two children and subsequent familial responsibilities, dedicated much of his time to studying Buddhist philosophy and practicing meditation (including annual retreats in meditation centers, monasteries and solitary cabin-retreats).
Buddhist practice puts emphasis on analyzing the nature of one’s own awareness and experience through study, contemplation and meditation, and often includes long periods of silence and reflection. Returning home to ordinary life and ordinary conversation after extended periods of quiet is what brought Spearin’s attention to what would be the focus of this new album: The natural, unselfconscious, music of speech. By replicating the rising and falling of the recorded voices on different instruments Spearin, in true Buddhist form, attempts to illuminate some of the beauty of ordinary life.
Spearin has performed snippets of his new project while on tour with Broken Social Scene and Do Make Say Think and is now preparing a live version the Happiness Project for a few select performances this spring.